This exploratory study examines the reflection of heteronormativity in English as a Second Language (ESL) reading texts and textbooks aimed at a college-aged audience and a range of proficiency levels. Heteronormativity is the portrayal of the heterosexual sexual identity as the only acceptable and/or normal sexual identity option (Dalley & Campbell 2006). This is often realized through the presentation of only heterosexual relationship structures, while also lacking any alternative relationship structures. The sample for this study consisted of forty-five reading texts/textbooks (ntext = 14; ntextbook = 31). These sample materials were examined by looking for examples of normative relationships and family structures exhibited in the main prose, textual examples, visual elements, and question/discussion activities. After examining the samples, each sample was given a numerical rating on 1–3 nominal level scale; 1 being non-heteronormative, 2 being low-heteronormative, and 3 being heteronormative. The data were then broken down to examine heteronormativity ratings by publisher, text-type, proficiency level, and year of publication. Average heteronormativity ratings were then calculated for each category of the data. These averages were then compared for the types of materials (texts and textbooks) and publishers examined. Changes in the average heteronormativity rating for each 5-year period are also reported. This paper will conclude by highlighting the need for less heteronormative ESL reading materials as these materials often function as valuable identity resources for language learners, and they often allow instructors to create a more diverse classroom environment by queering the classroom discourse.
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